Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ARQ Project: Surah al-An'am

The Cattle.

There is a story about cattle in here, towards the end, but I'm not sure I'm going to include it. Because, honestly, I didn't find it that interesting.

I didn't make a whole lot of notes for this surah. I'm actually finding a lot of the Qur'an, so far, to be repetitious. Not word for word, but it's all on a couple of themes.

1. The people who had the revelation before messed it up. They turned away, yadda, yadda. They're misguided.

2. God is awesome and you should listen to him and his prophet Mohammed (and all the other prophets too). If you don't, there's hellfire.

3. Good things await those who believe.

4. Food & Women. The ones you can have and the ones you can't.

But let's look at the couple of notes I did make.

8. They say: Why hath not an angel been sent down unto him? If We sent down an angel, then the matter would be judged; no further time would be allowed them (for reflection).

This is, I believe, in the context of people wondering why Mohammed was chosen as prophet. And I'm fairly certain that this isn't the idea that was meant when this was said/written down, but I can't help but think about so many of the angelic visitations in the Bible. They weren't, generally, good things. Sure, there's the visitation of Gabriel to Mary, the Annunciation. And the visit of the angels to Sarah and Abraham and Raphael's journey with Tobias. But in many more cases if an angel shows up bad things are about to go down. See: Sodom and Gomorrah. The death of the first born in Egypt. My note on this one is literally: 'angels are bad news'.

35. And if their aversion is grievous unto thee, then, if thou canst, seek a way down into the earth or a ladder unto the sky that thou mayst bring unto them a portent (to convince them all)! - If Allah willed, He could have brought them all together to the guidance - So be not thou among the foolish ones.

Again, probably not what the point of this ayah is, but I can't help but be reminded of the story of John he Baptist being hidden from Herod and Jacob's ladder.

The story of John the Baptist in extra-Biblical, taken from the Protoevangelium of James:

22. And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking where to conceal him. And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: O mountain of God, receive mother and child. And immediately the mountain was cleft, and received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them.

And I think we're all familiar with Jacob's ladder, but just in case you're not:

10 Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 He [a]came to [b]a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it [c]under his head, and lay down in that place. 12 He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the Lord stood [d]above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your [e]descendants. 14 Your [f]descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will [g]spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your [h]descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have [i]promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put [j]under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. 19 He called the name of that place [k]Bethel; however, [l]previously the name of the city had been Luz. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I [m]take, and will give me [n]food to eat and garments to wear, 21 and I return to my father’s house in [o]safety, then the Lord will be my God. 22 This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Though I have to admit that as a child, picturing angels climbing up and down a ladder seemed utterly ridiculous to me. Of course now I imagine it was more like a staircase. *Much* more logical. :)

46. Say: Have ye imagined, if Allah should take away your hearing and your sight and seal your hearts, Who is the Allah Who could restore it to you save Allah? See how We display the revelations unto them! Yet still they turn away.

I should probably just title this post: Amber reading meaning that was probably not the intent of the author or the meaning anyone else sees in this. Reading this ayah all I could think about was Jesus' healings in the Gospels. He restored sight, the ability to walk, he healed diseases, he brought the dead back to life. All things that belong to the realm of God, right? And yet Jesus did them. I understand, the argument could be made that God did these things *through* Jesus the prophet. That it wasn't *Jesus* who did the healing, but God and Jesus was just the point man, so to speak. But on the other hand, assuming the position that Jesus is God, then the healings only go to prove that point.

Or at least those were the thoughts I had when reading this ayah. Again, my blog, I do what I want.

74 - 82: (Remember) when Abraham said unto his father Azar: Takest thou idols for gods? Lo! I see thee and thy folk in error manifest. Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he might be of those possessing certainty: When the night grew dark upon him he beheld a star. He said: This is my Lord. But when it set, he said: I love not things that set. And when he saw the moon uprising, he exclaimed: This is my Lord. But when it set, he said: Unless my Lord guide me, I surely shall become one of the folk who are astray. And when he saw the sun uprising, he cried: This is my Lord! This is greater! And when it set he exclaimed: O my people! Lo! I am free from all that ye associate (with Him). Lo! I have turned my face toward Him Who created the heavens and the earth, as one by nature upright, and I am not of the idolaters.

His people argued with him. He said: Dispute ye with me concerning Allah when He hath guided me? I fear not at all that which ye set up beside Him unless my Lord willeth aught. My Lord includeth all things in His knowledge. Will ye not then remember? How should I fear that which ye set up beside Him, when ye fear not to set up beside Allah that for which He hath revealed unto you no warrant? Which of the two factions hath more right to safety? (Answer me that) if ye have knowledge. Those who believe and obscure not their belief by wrongdoing, theirs is safety; and they are rightly guided.

I don't know why, but this passage struck me as strange. All this emphasis, in conversations, is placed on following the faith of Abraham. Abraham the father of monotheism. But I read this and I just...it just makes Abraham seem kind of silly to me. He worships the first neat thing he sees, and then when it proves to not be eternal or to change or what have you, he casts it aside and worships the next neat thing until he runs out of things. Or maybe I'm just reading it funny.

Do any of you have thoughts on this?

112. Thus have We appointed unto every prophet an adversary - devils of humankind and jinn who inspire in one another plausible discourse through guile. If thy Lord willed, they would not do so; so leave them alone with their devising;

I found this one interesting as it sort of works with my personal theory on the devil which is that he's just a guy doing his job. Free will is all well and good but unless you have *options*, what do you do with it? How can you choose 'right' when there's no 'wrong' to contrast it to? My Dad has this thing where he talks about how lucky we are to be living when and where we are. He talks about how miserable he'd be in a time without internet or power or clean water, etc. And he just doesn't get it (I think) when I point out that it's only because we can see the difference between the two times/places that we think we'd be miserable. If we were born in the 1500s we'd be as happy or as unhappy as anyone else in the time period had the chance to be. We wouldn't be mourning for our lack of satellite tv because we wouldn't know it existed in the future. You can't mourn or make choices between things that you don't know! 

And so, yes. This is a post of general rambling that has, I fear, very little to do with the actual content or intent of the surah.

I never said I was good at this stuff!


  1. I like your posts even if you think they are just rambling.It's interesting to see things through your eyes and read what certain verses remind you of.

    I agree that a lot of the Quran seemed repetitive. I got a wee bit tired of Moses since it seemed his story, in particular, came up a LOT.

    I agree that we don't miss what we don't know. I've heard people say this in regards to air conditioning (for some reason). :)

    1. Most of my life is just a rambling monologue. :)

      people say this in regards to air conditioning (for some reason). :)

      Because people with air conditioning can't imagine life without it. It just seems so *uncivilized*.

  2. Surahs are basically going to start repeating. It LOVES to repeat itself. And its not necessary important information either.

    1. I don't remember it being so repetitive before. But this is a different, easier translation so that might have something to do with it.


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